Sleep temple or dream temple therapy: the ill would spend the night in a holy place. Before falling asleep they were influenced by suggestions, in the hope of provoking dreams sent by the gods. With the knowledge generated from the dreams, incantations and prayers were used to invoke the healing powers of the gods.
Sakel’s therapy (1930’s): patients were put into superficial coma’s with injections of insulin. Enjoyed great popularity with early findings indicating over 70% of patients improved after therapy. Further controlled studies showed no lasting improvement in symptoms. Some recipients of insulin shock therapy were James Forrestal (first US Secretary of Defense), Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinski, Zelda Fitzgerald.
Metrazol induced convulsions (1930’s): Ladislaus von Meduna studied the brains and mental health histories of schizophrenics and epileptics and noted that there seemed to exist a "biological antagonism" between these two diseases of the brain. He then reasoned that "pure" artificially induced epileptic convulsions could be able to "cure" schizophrenia. With the advent of other less dangerous therapies, metrazol was gradually discontinued in the late 40's and is no longer in use.
Electroconvulsive shock therapy (1930’s): Ugo Cerletti and Lucio Bini developed an apparatus that would deliver electric shocks to induce convulsions. Patients showed remarkable improvement and ECT became the shock therapy of choice in the majority of hospitals and asylums around the world. ECT was abused in many situations as a way to control problem patients and gradually fell out of favor.
"ECT stands practically alone among the medical/surgical interventions in that misuse was not the goal of curing but of controlling the patients for the benefits of the hospital staff" (Medical Historian David J. Rothman, NIH Consensus Conference on ECT in 1985)
Approximately 10 gene variations are currently linked to the risk of developing schizophrenia. The more of these gene variations that a person has, acting in concert with environmental factors, the greater the risk of developing schizophrenia. Results of a study begun in 1990 show strong evidence for a schizophrenia susceptibility gene in 6p22-p24 and 11q21-22.
Brain abnormalities present in schizophrenics are larger ventricles and smaller medial temporal lobe structures. Studies suggest that prenatal infection and nutritional deficiencies as well as perinatal trauma can result in disrupted fetal brain development.
Prenatal infection: schizophrenia is found 5-15% more in people born in winter and spring seasons. It is hypothesized that exposure to viral epidemics (particularly during the 2 nd trimester) during cold weather months contribute to the development of schizophrenia.